AI-powered location services and Wi-Fi boosts patient and visitor satisfaction

By Bill Siwicki, Managing Editor of Healthcare IT News
Originally posted on Healthcare IT News

Veterans and guests at Orlando VA Medical Center were getting lost, and many were late for appointments. A new wayfinding technology application is changing all that.

Orlando VA Medical Center in Florida is one of seven medical centers that make up the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network, or VISN 8. It serves more than 110,000 veterans in Central Florida and has the challenge of getting patients from point A to point B within its new 1.2 million square foot Lake Hospital.

The Problem

The medical center provides acute care, complex specialty care, advanced diagnostic services, a large multispecialty outpatient clinic, and administrative and support services. It was experiencing many missed or late appointments simply because patients could not find their way around the large facility.


So Orlando VA Medical Center looked at AI-powered location services technology from vendor Mist, a Juniper Company, which it said was unique to its competitors since its architecture was designed to eliminate the complex challenges of legacy overlay networks with the company’s modern microservices platform.

This, coupled with 100% open API capabilities, make this very flexible and easy to solve many indoor location-based problems, said Jeffrey Saura, chief technology officer at Orlando VA Medical Center. Also, by using machine learning and AI, the Mist technology helps deliver a more predictable and reliable network compared to some of the existing Wi-Fi solutions, he added.

“Originally, we only were looking to Mist to solve our indoor location-services needs,” he explained. “However, after getting a better understanding of their next-gen networking cloud-based microservices architecture, along with the business offerings of their all-inclusive – Wi-Fi, BLE and IoT – enterprise grade access point form factor, we moved our five-year refresh up one year ahead of plan so we could capitalize on their unified Wi-Fi assurance and vBLE solution to provide both the location services and better user connectivity services.”


There are many vendors of indoor location services technologies on the market today. Some of these vendors include Spreo, Chetu, Cisco Systems, GloPos Technologies, HERE, infsoft, Inside Secure, IndoorAtlas, Micello, Navizon, Qualcomm, Ruckus Wireless and Sprooki.

Meeting the Challenge

Orlando VA Medical Center implemented a pervasive Wi-Fi coverage for guest internet and vBLE for indoor location services deployment campus-wide. Meeting the initial project goal of improving patient experiences and streamlining patient onboarding, the organization deployed blue dot wayfinding along with a smartphone application to offer a tailored patient experience.

“Along with guest Wi-Fi, we also managed physical access via the IoT port on the APs along with various door lock manufacturers,” Saura said. “Additionally, we opted-in for their asset visibility feature that we are looking to leverage at a later date.”

“Don’t be averse to the challenges of running a mixed vendor network these days.”
Jeffrey Saura, Orlando VA Medical Center

The veteran patients, guests and visitors are benefiting from the technology vendor’s Wi-Fi assurance for internet access, which now services more than 13,000 clients weekly. vBLE will be used with the Veteran Experience APP (to be released in September) including blue dot indoor wayfinding.

“Overall, open SSID for access to all visitors, so that our distinguished guests receive an uncompromised level of internet service to supplement their overall patient care experience here at Orlando VA Medical,” Saura said. “Along with this concierge quality Wi-Fi, we have enhanced the overall guest experience with wayfinding that enables indoor location-based, without requiring the legacy battery powered beacons or manual site calibration services.”

The medical center integrated the Mist technology with a mapping platform called Jibestream from vendor Inpixon for the wayfinding solution. It also has integrated various automatic door-locking systems via Mist’s IoT port to improve patient security.

“For location services, the Mist APs provide the location data that we integrate through their APIs with the Jibestream platform,” Saura added. “This enables us to deliver wayfinding services through our innovative mobile application.”


Moving from the legacy controller-based network to Mist Systems’ cloud managed platform has eliminated the medical center’s distribution layer gear and disparate monitoring systems achieving a hard capital expenditure by 60% to optimize the organization’s IT spend, simplify IT operations, and deliver a better experience for staff, patients and visitors, Saura reported.

“By integrating the Mist location technology with our mobile app, we were able to deliver a more engaging experience for our patients and visitors, improving their experience while visiting or staying at our facility,” he said. “It also helps them find their care providers and scheduled services more quickly when they enter the hospital.”

Additionally, the medical center has boosted its patient satisfaction levels with the new technology, both in terms of making it easier for them to navigate the facility but also providing them better Wi-Fi connectivity, he added.

Advice for Others

“Don’t be averse to the challenges of running a mixed vendor network these days,” Saura advised. “On your next AP refresh cycle, consider all vendor offerings and choose the one that fits your needs. Look at investing into APs that offer a broad portfolio of services for indoor location technology. As a nice-to-have today, indoor location services will be a must-have tomorrow.”